Data from: Evolutionary signatures of photoreceptor transmutation in geckos reveal potential adaptation and convergence with snakes
Schott, Ryan K.; Bhattacharyya, Nihar; Chang, Belinda S. (2019), Data from: Evolutionary signatures of photoreceptor transmutation in geckos reveal potential adaptation and convergence with snakes, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.th8334d
Most vertebrates use a combination of rod and cone photoreceptors to enable vision in conditions ranging from starlight to direct sunlight. Nocturnal geckos, however, have simplex retinas that contain only rods in terms of morphology and physiology, but these rods are thought to be derived from cones through an evolutionary process known as photoreceptor transmutation. To investigate this, we generated eye transcriptomes and analyzed patterns of phototransduction gene evolution in geckos in comparison to other reptiles. We confirm that geckos have lost several major components of the rod phototransduction pathway, including rod opsin (RH1), which we identified as a pseudogene in multiple genomes. We also identified a partial rod transducin transcript, but found no evidence of the protein in retinal sections. However, we find that geckos express several complete rod phototransduction transcripts in the eye, which may contribute to the rod-like physiology of nocturnal gecko photoreceptors. Finally, we found surprising evidence that even though photoreceptor transmutation evolved independently in geckos and snakes, they have experienced parallel shifts in selective constraint on phototransduction genes. These results implicate convergent adaptive change in the underlying molecular machinery of visual transduction, in addition to the more obvious changes to cellular morphology, during photoreceptor transmutation.